iPhone 4 brings Apple closer to Android phones which are getting better in the meantime
Consumers can only revel in the competition between Apple’s iPhone 4, Google’s Android phones and even Microsoft Mobile. Cell phones are getting more like computers and video cameras that fit in your pocket.
The changes are coming so quickly that customers are demanding shorter contracts with the carriers so that they can swap out their old phones to adopt the newest model. We’ve seen the terms from from 3 years to 2 years over the past year. The deal to trade in an iPhone 6 months early is another step in the process of getting the newer hot phones into customers hands. On the flip side expect user charges for data to increase as we use the phones for more and more computing.
The just release iPhone 4 with it’s touted new features put Apple in direct competition with the Android powered EVO 4G. Sprint said it’s sales of the 4G on Monday broke all previous records for them. We have a comparison of the Apple 4 and EVO G below.
Microsoft seems to be the laggard in the race but don’t count them out. The new Hotmail coming this summer is expected to blow Gmail and other free-mail out of the water. Microsoft has been slowly assembling its online presence with Live and Windows 7 embedded.
The Microsoft strategy is to be the cloud for all our systems. Most people in use Microsoft Office with Outlook for an email and calendering client. Try to get those to sync reliably with Apple and Google: it doesn’t happen. Microsoft owns that space where you can get all your email, docs, pictures and things you want to share in one space. See Microsoft’s Windows Live Essentials rides a new wave.
In Canada we don’t have the EVO G yet but Rogers said we will be seeing lots of Android phones roll out. “Stay tuned,” Rob Bruce, president of Rogers’ communications business, said today in an interview at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto. “There’s lots of Android product coming” from handset makers including Motorola Inc. and HTC Corp. he said, declining to give a time frame. Android Canada
From a hardware perspective, the new iPhone is a significant improvement over Apple’s last offering. And on the software side, the updated operating system brings about numerous capabilities previously unavailable to iPhone users.
The problem, though, is that most of the iPhone’s new features feel like incremental upgrades, not game-changing innovations. Put simply, the new iPhone is a step forward within Apple’s world — but outside of that walled garden, it’s still worlds behind.
Apple’s iPhone 4 vs. Android: The Basics
Let’s go through the biggest selling points of Apple’s new iPhone 4, as outlined by Steve Jobs in his keynote on Monday:
• It’s pretty. The new iPhone has an updated design, with a thin 9.3-millimeter profile and a stainless steel shell.
• It’s sharp. The iPhone 4 boasts a new 326-DPI, 960-by-640 LCD display.
• It’s faster than the 3GS, thanks to the addition of Apple’s custom A4 chip.
• It has a better camera, plus a new front-facing camera that allows for (limited) video chat.
Pitted up against the HTC EVO 4G, arguably the highest-end Android phone on the market right now, the iPhone 4 comes out ahead in the display department: Its 960-by-640 resolution beats the EVO’s 800-by-480 resolution, though the EVO offers a larger screen (4.3 inches next to the iPhone’s 3.5 inches). The new iPhone is also about a tenth of an inch thinner than the EVO.
Do those advantages have you seeing stars? Because they’re pretty much where the new iPhone’s competitive perks end.
(I know, I know: I left out the gyroscope thingie. Quite frankly, I’m not sure most typical users will understand or care what it is, let alone notice the difference it makes. If it excites you, feel free to add it into the list above.)
Apple’s iPhone 4 vs. Android: The Smackdown
Consider now where Android, despite this week’s iPhone progress, comes out ahead. We’ll start with the basics on the handset-to-handset comparison:
• The EVO has a better camera: 8 megapixels compared to the iPhone 4’s 5 megapixels. [Update: As several commenters have pointed out, it’s unfair to compare the cameras based on megapixels alone. So consider this item stricken from the list.]
• In speed, the EVO uses a 1GHz processor. The iPhone, meanwhile, is said to use the same A4 processor as the iPad, which suggests it also has a 1GHz chip (Apple hasn’t explicitly disclosed the processor’s specifics). No formal device-to-device benchmarks have been completed yet, but some initial impressions suggest the new iPhone may not be noticeably faster than its predecessor. Either way, new cutting-edge Android devices will be coming out practically every month; this iPhone will likely be the only hardware available until Apple’s next hurrah in 2011. You do the math.
Then there’s the other important stuff the new iPhone is still lacking:
• Any significant customization options (and no, the ability to set your own wallpaper doesn’t count as significant, even if Steve Jobs says it’s “amazing” and “really wonderful”). Don’t like Android’s interface? No problem: You can change almost every facet of the user experience, should the urge strike.
• System-wide voice-to-text input.
• Live, functioning home screen widgets.
• The ability to swap out the phone’s battery.
• High-quality navigation software that isn’t a separate purchase.
• Anything that matches the numerous innovations coming from Android 2.2 — things like over-the-air music syncing and streaming, cloud-to-device messaging, and mobile hotspot functionality.
• The choice to use a carrier that isn’t AT&T (I don’t think I have to spell out the numerous reasons why).
(Side note: I read somewhere that the new iPhone has a handful of hidden features most people don’t know about. If anyone ever sees the “Soul Scanner” in action, let me know and we’ll re-evaluate.)
Apple’s iPhone 4 vs. Android: Final Thoughts
In the end, there’s little question that Apple’s new iPhone will be a commercial success. And hey, if you’re the kind of person who buys into Apple’s world, you’ll probably love it (in fact, I think that might be a contractual requirement).
The tides are turning, though, and more and more people are starting to realize that there is a more powerful and open alternative. Yes, the old “but what about the apps?” argument is still out there — but it’s becomingless relevant with each passing month. And, let’s be honest, does anyone really need more than 50,000 apps to find what they want? The vast majority of Apple’s selection sits unused.
Here’s the truth: Steve Jobs is many things, but stupid is not one of them. He’s undoubtedly aware of the strides his competition is making in mobile technology, and he’s undoubtedly made a conscious decision to do things his way, with his control, instead of trying to keep up with the paces. It’s a decision that should feel awfully familiar to Steve and the Apple empire; they’ve been in this boat before, and we all know how it ended.
So mark my words: This won’t be remembered as the year the iPhone got folders, a faster chip, or a gyroscope. This will be remembered as the year the iPhone stopped paving the way and started transitioning into the third-place platform — albeit, the very pretty third-place platform — it’s destined to become.
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